Modern Skull Mountain?

The monstrous relic King Kong (1933) lived in the eye of Skull Mountain on an uncharted South Pacific Island. He was the king of beasts and ruled over prehistoric reptiles and indigenous people. Kong was a giant and of course met his fate when the airplanes got ’em —or was it beauty that killed the beast? King Kong is the ultimate monster and the film works because it’s non-stop action once Carl Denham and crew land on the island.

Kong begs the question: Are there actually “Lost Worlds” harboring extinct life forms from a bygone age? Actually, the answer is yes. On Ball’s Pyramid in the Tasman Sea, approximately 600 miles off the eastern coast of Australia.

This story was carried by NPR in February 2012. It reads like Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.

Ball’s Pyramid is an isolated remnant volcanic landform within the Lord Howe Island Archipelago of the Tasman Sea (31°45’15″S 159º 15’06″E). It’s a steep volcanic stack approximately 1,844 feet amsl and comprising approximately 80 acres in area. In 2001, a team of entomologists and ecologists made a startling discovery. Living on a single shrub, approximately 330 feet amsl, they discovered a colony of 24 Lord Howe Island Stick Insects (Drycocelus australis), thought to have been rendered extinct in the late 1920’s. These are giant stick insects growing up to approximately 5.9 inches in length (15 cm). The Lord Howe Island Stick Insects are a Lazarus taxon (a group of organisms that disappears from the fossil record, only to reappear again later (other examples include Latimeria or Coelacanth)). If bigfoot was found and identified as Gigantopithecus, he too would be classified as a Lazarus taxon. Other relics include the Thylacine marsupial wolf (see monsterminions blog on The Hunter). I wonder if remnant packs exist?

The insect has now been reared in captivity, but is still a threatened species. Here’s an image of the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/02/24/147367644/six-legged-giant-finds-secret-hideaway-hides-for-80-years

http://www.rodmorris.co.nz/Beyond-New-Zealand/Beyond-New-Zealand/13993648_pzN6Kn#!i=1135534988&k=B6jk4

Drycocelus australis

http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/6852/0

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